LARAMIE — The depth chart came out Monday, but Rome Weber didn’t find out until Tuesday.
But the news was good as the University of Wyoming redshirt freshman earned the starting free safety job heading into the Cowboys’ season-opener against Missouri a week from Saturday. Weber beat out junior Braden Smith for the job.
Sixth-year UW coach Craig Bohl and first-year defensive coordinator Jake Dickert both said Weber and Smith will play this season, and it wasn’t like Smith had a bad fall camp.
It was just Weber was a little better, and in particular, in last Saturday’s scrimmage.
“(Weber) did some good things in that scrimmage and has practiced well,” Bohl said. “He was a heavily-recruited guy out of high school, which doesn’t necessarily translate to this level, but we saw a guy that was athletic, could run, change direction and was competitive.”
Weber was recruited by UW as a cornerback. However, the 5-foot-11, 186-pounder said he played safety as a senior at Cajon High in San Bernardino, California. Weber played in three games on special teams last season but was able to redshirt due to new rules in college football.
UW moved Weber to safety prior to the start of spring drills in late March.
“I was excited for the move,” Weber said. “I like free safety. I like both safety and cornerback, but I feel I am a more natural free safety.
“I’m excited all the work I put in is starting to pay off. I’m also excited for my parents, so they had something to be proud of.”
Dickert said the game was moving fast for Weber during the spring, but that it slowed down during fall camp. That’s typical for any young player, even ones making a position change.
“There are not as many mental busts,” Dickert said. “He can make plays. He can cover guys in the slot. He can do the things that are unique to that position, but now we’ve started seeing him do those things more consistently.
“He is still a freshman, and there will be freshman mistakes, but he is an explosive kid. We feel good about our first game with Rome being the guy.”
Weber said playing on special teams last season helped him get a better feel for the speed of the college game.
UW asks the free safety to do a lot in its defense. Senior Marcus Epps, now with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, did a little bit of everything against the run and pass during his career, but especially last season.
Weber feels he can be just as versatile.
“That’s exactly how I want to be,” he said. “The position is very hard, but if you put your head in the playbook you will be fine. You can’t take any days off.
“You have to stay focused. That’s how I want to keep going with this.”
Bohl wouldn’t say Tuesday if UW was in game preparation mode for Missouri, but Wednesday, he said the Cowboys were.
During Wednesday’s practice, Bohl said UW went over certain game situations. He also said the team will do some live special teams work Saturday, which marks the final practice of camp.
“It is nice to flip to the next page or chapter,” UW senior wide receiver Raghib Ismail Jr. said. “The first one has been taken care of, and now it’s time to lock in on the second one. That first game is going to be here quicker than we realize.”
Senior graduate transfer running back Trey Smith remains out with a concussion suffered in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Redshirt freshman offensive guard Blayne Baker (concussion) practiced Wednesday.
Game time change
UW’s Oct. 19 homecoming game against New Mexico will now start at 1 p.m. The game was originally slated to start at 2 p.m.
It will be televised by AT&T SportsNet.
A scout from the NFL’s Green Bay Packers was at Wednesday’s practice.
The Cowboys practice at 8:50 a.m. today at War Memorial Stadium.